Nvidia brings high-end graphics core technology to Tegra 5

Nvidia envisions augmented reality reaching smartphones and tablets with Kepler graphics cores

By , IDG News Service |  Hardware

Nvidia earlier offered a graphics development platform called Kayla in which a Tegra processor was attached to a Kepler GPU via a PCI-Express interconnect. The platform was intended to get programmers to start writing mobile applications for the Kepler GPU. But with Logan, the Kepler graphics processor is integrated inside the Tegra chip.

Programmers will have to write algorithms and programs to enable augmented reality, face recognition and other high-end multimedia, Vivoli said. Processing such tasks will be quicker when off-loaded to the Kepler graphics core, Vivoli said.

It will also be the "first time" GPGPU (general-purpose graphics processing unit computing) comes to mobile devices, Vivoli said, referring to a concept in which processing is being increasingly moved to from CPUs to graphics cores in systems.

But the CPUs and graphics processors still need to work in a coherent manner, and the Tegra 5 chip will support a range of parallel programming tools such as CUDA 5.5, OpenCL 2.0 and Microsoft's DirectX. Such tools harness the joint processing power of CPUs and GPUs to bring performance gains in supercomputers, and with mobile devices, the performance boosts have to fit within a specific power limit.

There are multiple parallel programming development tools for mobile devices and supercomputing. Intel offers development tools to work with its Xeon Phi accelerator chip, while Advanced Micro Devices is pushing with specifications from the HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) Foundation, a group that hopes to provide tools so applications can be easily ported across different chip architectures and devices. Nvidia is not a member of HSA, which is backed by ARM, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and others.

Beyond Logan, Nvidia is making more hardware improvements that should make graphics rendering faster. The Tegra 6 processor code-named Parker will unite CPU and GPU and make it a shared resource. Parker will also have a 3D structure in which transistors will be stacked on top of each other, which should make the GPU faster and more power efficient. Parker is due for release in 2015.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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